Here’s another nifty tool that’s tough to find in the U.S., but, like rock bands and beer, the import is often worth a look. The British-made Routabout jig cuts access holes in floors and turns the cutout — which would normally be waste — into the cover for the access hole. Use this tool to access plumbing, electrical, or other systems that are often inaccessible below the floor.
To use the Routabout, center the template over where you want the opening and screw it into the floor, making sure the jig can rotate freely. Chuck the bit and install the guide bushing in your plunge router and place the guide bushing into the template. Route a shallow pass, increasing the depth with each pass you make, until you have cut all the way through the floor. To close the hole, insert the spacer ring, flip the waste piece over, and place it in the ring. You now have a nice and neat access hole and cover.
Trend made the Routebout to cut 250 mm holes (approx 10″) in chipboard floors, but there is no reason it shouldn’t work on plywood or oriented strand board floors also. The Routabout starter kit includes a special tungsten carbide-tipped router bit, a routabout template, a 30mm (1-3/16″) plastic guide bushing, and three spacer rings. (Note: you need to provide the plunge router. The one in the picture isn’t included.) Kits can be purchased with 1/4″ or 1/2″ shank bits and for 18mm (approx. 3/4″) or 22mm (approx 7/8″) thick floors. Depending on the model of you router, it may also require a unibase, sold separately. Trend has a webpage where you can check if your router is compatible.
The Routabout runs about £ 42 plus VAT, which at the current conversion rate is about $85 plus tax and shipping (Damn the weakening dollar!). But if you’ve gotta have it, Trend ships across the pond too.